Telangana : Fuel station owners accuse tanker drivers of pilferage

About 70 to 100 litres of fuel are pilfered from every tanker depending on its capacity.

HYDERABAD: Around 70 ‘mechanic repair sheds’ in Cherlapally and Ghatkesar are dens for fuel pilferage. A few hundred tankers bound for the city and districts in Telangana stop over at the sheds, to pilfer fuel before heading to their destinations.

The ‘oil mafia’, which is how fuel station owners described it, manages the ‘pilferage points’ and sells petrol and diesel to roadside dealers. About 1,200 tankers are loaded daily at private oil companies located in Cherlapally and Ghatkesar. The longer the distance of the tanker, the more the chances of pilferage, fuel station owners said.

“After coming out of the company compound, drivers take the tanker to the local vehicle repair shed. There with the help of pipes, the drivers pilfer fuel and fill it in small containers before shifting them out to other locations,” said Telangana Petroleum Dealers Association founder president N. Dinesh Reddy.

The mafia had been operating for years despite several complaints made to authorities concerned, he added.

About 70 to 100 litres of fuel are pilfered from every tanker depending on its capacity. “Contractors and officials are hand in glove with the companies. So our complaints are not looked into,” he said.

Tanker drivers generally sell the fuel at half the market price. Brokers or intermediaries operating the sheds sell it with a margin of Rs 5 to Rs 7 to roadside fuel stations or others who purchase it refuel their vehicles. In all, the tanker drivers to make about `2,000 to `3,000 daily which in turn would be a few lakhs for the mafia.

After the tanker reaches the fuel stations, the manager measures the volume with the help of a ‘dip rod stick’. Petrol or diesel would become thicker after transported for a long distance, taking time to get a correct measure.

“But the tanker drivers are in a hurry and do not allow us to measure it correctly. It has become part of the business and we ignore small pilferage of 20 to 30 litres,” said Greater Hyderabad Petrol and Diesel Dealers Association general secretary M. Amarender Reddy.

On the other hand, the fuel station owners’ association said drivers who do not have valid licenses for driving hazardous vehicles are at the wheel. “At the fuel company, the licence holder goes for filling. After coming out, he hands the tanker over to another driver who has only a heavy vehicle driving licence. There is also a great risk as they are not well versed with the safety issues,” says an association member.

Asked about the pilferage, an oil company official said they lock the tankers after filling them. “The fuel station owner has one key and the other is with the company. The drivers do not have any key. Once out of the company, it is the responsibility of the contractors to deliver the consignments,” he said.

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